OIC accept ‘challenging’ government settlement

Orkney Islands Council, along with all the other 32 local authorities in Scotland, has accepted the Scottish Government’s financial settlement for the next financial year.

Orkney Islands Council convener, Councillor Steven Heddle, said: “This has proved to be an extremely challenging budget-setting process for the council, following the announcement of a substantial cut in the funding we will receive from Scottish Government for 2016-17.

“We have written to the cabinet secretary to accept the settlement package, including a freeze on council tax for a further year.

“We have done this in order to avoid the onerous sanctions we would have faced had we not accepted the settlement offered to us.”

The council’s proposed budget for 2016-17 will be discussed at a meeting of the policy and resources committee tomorrow, Thursday, and then by the full council a week later.

Although the settlement has not been finalised, as it stands OIC’s revenue budget — the budget used for running council services — will be reduced from just over the £70 million received this financial year to £67.7 million for 2016/17.

In December, the proposed financial settlement for local authorities in Scotland was slammed by OIC convener Councillor Steven Heddle and chief executive Alistair Buchan, with Mr Buchan saying: “This is the worst settlement I can ever remember in my time in local government. It’s serious.”

The council also warned that this would inevitably have an impact on council services and staffing levels.